Monday, 2 March 2015

Replacing step stiles & laying a hedge.

Over the last few weeks we've continued our estate work around Langdale valley. Our first job was to lay a section of hedge next to the road near Loughrigg Tarn.

Hedge ready to be laid 

The hedge was predominantly Beech and contained a few trees that had been previously laid before. Some of the trees were over 15cm diameter, making it extra difficult to lay with just billhooks and pruning saws.

Laying the hedge

As the hedge was planted sometime ago, some of the hedge plants had already died off, which left several gaps in the hedge. Fortunately the hedge didn't need to be stock proof, otherwise we would have been better coppicing the Beech and planting some additional saplings. The main function of this hedge is to provide some extra habitat for nesting birds. When laying the hedge we managed to fill in most of the gaps but we'll reassess it over the year and perhaps add a few more saplings if required, either way it'll provide some nice nesting habitat for a variety of bird species.

Section of newly laid hedge

Our next job was to replace a couple of old step-stiles behind the back of the National Trust campsite in Great Langdale.

 Old step stile

When possible, we prefer to replace step-stiles with kissing gates as they are a bit more user friendly for people, but in this instance the farmer who grazes the land had requested that the ladder-stiles were replaced as it stops the risk of the gate being stuck open and sheep getting into the neighbouring field.

 Starting work on the new stile

We removed the old stile and had to work quickly as it was tricky getting over the wall with no stile in place. Luckily it was fairly quiet and we managed to help the few passing walkers over the wall. 

New treads in position 

Once we had the treads in position the pressure was off as it was at least possible to get over the wall.

The finished stile 

The final job was to add the platform to the top and the stile was complete. While working on the second step-stile a little further along the path a walker came by and told us he rated our first stile as "7 out of 10". We thought this a little harsh and were tempted to walk back to the stile with him, armed with a spirit-level and tape measure, and find out where we had dropped points. He obviously hadn't appreciated the accuracy down to just a few millimetres, or the perfect spacing between the treads on the platform, or the fact that that each tread was pretty much bang-on level! Needless to say we just smiled and let him get on his way. So if you happen to be out walking the path and use the new stiles (and rate them 9 or above) please do get in touch, we'd love to hear from you.